Q&A With Star of 'Knowing', Rose Byrne
Words: Gavin Burke
Looking a tad tired after a long flight from LA, Rose Byrne is still better looking in real life than on the big screen. She's in town to discuss Knowing, a thriller starring Nicolas Cage. Byrne plays Diana Wayland, a single mother who doesn’t trust Cage’s astrophysicist when he tells her a disastrous tragedy is about the befall the world.
Let's get the important stuff out of the way first - I hear you're a Pat Benatar fan!
(Laughs) Yeah, I love dancing around the room to Love Is A Battlefield.
Did you know that was one of the first music videos that had a 'story'?
Is that true? I didn't know that. She's got some incredible outfits in that video. She's not Irish, is she?
Not at all.
In Knowing you play Diane, a strong female character. Do you feel there is a lack of good roles for women in Hollywood today?
Well, mmm, I don't know. I think there are. I was looking at the Oscars this year and there are some fantastic roles. I think - I know - it’s harder to make a film with two female leads. Hands down. I remember reading an article and Meryl Streep was saying that Mamma Mia! took years to fund because they thought no one would want to see women dancing and singing, that there wouldn’t be an audience for it. So, yeah.
And it's tougher as women get older and the roles get scarcer. You said that you want to be still acting in your '60s but you know that you won’t look the way you do now.
Yes. I think the roles are few and far between. Of course I’d love to sustain a career as long as I can. I adore my job and I’m very grateful for it... but the industry speaks for itself.
What first attracted you to the role of Diane?
I had huge empathy for her when I read the script. She had an incredibly traumatic past and it's all about her history. She's this reluctant participant with Nicolas' character and basically I wanted to do it just to prove him wrong. She's kind of her own worst enemy; she can't see the forest for the trees. It was traumatic at times but there’s something about that that is enjoyable as an actor.
Did you see any of yourself in Diane?
No. She's pretty far from me in that sense.
More fun in playing her, then.
Absolutely. I don’t have any children so that was a huge part. I spent a lot of time with Lara Robinson (who plays Diana's daughter and, in a flashback, her mother as a child) and we hung out on set and bonded. I had met with a single parent in Melbourne who was very generous and helpful. I was pretty daunted by that, to make that authentic. But I think she looks like me.
It's spooky, isn't it? Especially when she's playing Lucinda, when she's the nutty one. (Laughs) That's a worry.
What does a script have to have to pique your interest?
I find it hard to read scripts. I have a 40-page rule now. I just don't want to waste my time. And they take something away from you; whereas a book nourishes you, a script depletes you. You know, something character driven, or if there's humour or intrigue. There has to be an emotional thing too, you know, you have to have something that you're drawn to or gets your body moving.
What are no-nos?
Anything where the female role takes her clothes off in the second scene. I'm not saying I wouldn't do it. If the character is a stripper - they're strippers and that's life - but no to those who invariably take their tops off by page 3.
What's your favourite role to date?
I really enjoyed my role in Sunshine, the Danny Boyle film. She (pilot Cassie) did a few things in that that I really enjoyed.
Is that your favourite film?
I'm really proud of that and I’m really proud of 28 Weeks Later and Damages too. I'm proud of being in a series. When I'm by myself I'm a big series watcher and I like being part of that world. That for me is exciting.
Is there any role in history you would have loved to have played? Why?
I loved Holly Hunter's role in The Piano. And Holly Hunter's role in Raising Arizona. I love to do something like that, really heightened and funny.
It takes a loooong time to get a movie together. Do you find it takes away from your personal life?
A bit. You tend to immerse yourself in it. I try to leave work at work and go home to home.
And is it hard to spend time away from Brendan? (Cowell, an Australian actor, writer and director).
It used to more. I did a few big jobs that were a long time away from my partner and my family. But now I've figured out how to juggle it all together.
TV dramas have raised their standards lately. You're currently starring in Damages alongside Glenn Close. Would you happily stay in TV if the roles were good enough or will film always be your favourite?
It would depend on the role. I really love the director-driven medium of film. The show is not director-driven at all. It's very much belongs to the creators. I would always veer towards the film but you never know what kind of roles there might be (in TV).
What's it like working with Glenn Close?
She's marvellous. Like Nicolas, an incredibly hard working and dedicated actor. She brings a prestige to our show. My favourite scenes are with her. They’re the best. We have a lot of fun.
You've ranked high on two 'Sexiest Women' polls. How do you feel about that?
Aw, listen, I'm completely anonymous in my own life. It's incredibly flattering.
Do you take it seriously or are you curious who ranked higher than you?
(Laughs) No! I don't have that much curiosity.
Before I go, I have to ask about your Irish links...
My grandfather is Irish. His family is Irish. My full name in Mary Rose Byrne, which sounds like an Irish ship coming in to dock.
What's up next for you?
I've a film coming out called Adam, which I'm proud of. And I'm on season 3 of Damages.
Knowing opens on 25th March.
Story by Sheena McGinley | 09:00 | Wednesday 25th March 2009 | Movie
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